Opioid neurotoxicity: Comparison of morphine and tramadol in an experimental rat model

Atici S., Cinel L., Cinel I., Doruk N., Aktekin M., Akca A., ...More

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, vol.114, no.8, pp.1001-1013, 2004 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 114 Issue: 8
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00207450490461314
  • Page Numbers: pp.1001-1013


Histopathologic changes in rat brain due to chronic use of morphine and/or tramadol in progressively increased doses were investigated in this study. Thirty male Wistar rats (180-220 g) were included and divided into three groups. Normal saline (I ml/kg) was given intraperitoneally as placebo in the control group (n = 10). Morphine group (n = 10) received morphine intraperitoneally at a dose of 4 mg/kg/day for the first 10 days, 8 mg/kg/day between 11-20 days, and 12 mg/kg/day between 21-30 days. The tramadol group (n = 10) received the drug intraperitoneally at doses of 20, 40, and 80 mg/kg/day in the first, second, and the third 10 days of the study, respectively. All rats were decapitated on the 30th day and the brain was removed intact for histology. The presence and the number of red neurons, which are a histologic marker of apoptosis, were investigated in the parietal, frontal, temporal, occipital, entorhinal, pyriform, and hippocampal CA1, CA2, CA3 regions. Red neurons were found in morphine and tramadol groups but not in the control group. The total number of red neurons was not different in morphine and tramadol groups, but the numbers of red neurons were significantly higher in the temporal and occipital regions in tramadol group as compared with the morphine group (p < .05). In conclusion, chronic use of morphine and/or tramadol in increasing doses is found to cause red neuron degeneration in the rat brain, which probably contributes to cerebral dysfunction. These findings should be taken into consideration when chrome use of opioids is indicated.